I had a nightmare this morning. I can’t remember the details but the main character in my dream, a monster made up of all hands was clear. I was frightened by it and when I woke up realized its significance. It represented failure.
It got me thinking about the importance that the fear of failure plays in our life. Sometimes our fear is so strong that it prevents us from fulfilling our dreams and ends up sabotaging our lives. What can we do to combat our fears so that they don’t end up controlling us?
1. Awareness. Being clear about what our fears are is the first step. Whether you do this through counseling, journal writing, or self-reflection through meditation, achieving an understanding of what it is you’re really afraid of is key.
2. Befriend fear. I used to have a reoccurring childhood dream that some kids were chasing me. I told my dad about it and he said, “Did you know that you can control your dreams? Next time, before you go to sleep, imagine a better ending and dream something good.” I did just that and you know what? That night, I dreamed that the two kids were chasing me to give me an ice cream cone. Know that while fear is always present in our lives, we can control our reaction to it. Instead of running away, focus on what the fear is trying to tell you and face it, you never know what gifts you’ll get out of that.
3. Do your research! Sometimes fear happens when we don’t have enough information. Instead of focusing on failure, focus on the things you can do and the steps you can take to get you toward success.
4. Fail. We’re so afraid of failing so I say fail! Yeah that’s right! We need to get comfortable with failure so that it’s not so scary and so that it has less power over us. Whether this means trying something you’re not good at, or playing out what would happen if you failed in your mind, taking the shock factor out of failure, may transform that big scary monster into something less intimidating.
5. Take action! The best way to deal with fear? Do something! If you’re afraid of failing at starting a business, for example, go out and talk to people who have succeeded. Or are you afraid of failing an exam or presentation? Then, spend time practicing. The more time you spend taking action, even if small ones, the less chance you’ll be stuck paralyzed by fear.